Moving screenings to reweave the link between the theatres and their spectators

Post-confinement cultural action project.
12 May 2020. Published by Benoît Labourdette.
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Itinerant projections on city walls, in the neighbourhood around a cinema, to experience again the happiness of shared projection, without any fear of health, thanks to the outside and the easy respect of social distancing. The film is also an opportunity for the audience to experience the joy of shared projection, without any fear of health, thanks to the outside and the easy respect of social distancing.

During the confinement period of March-April-May 2020, the cinemas, like all cultural structures welcoming the public, had to close, with no precise reopening date planned. In addition to the enormous loss of revenue and the difficulty of building future programming due to the film bottleneck, a more fundamental question arises, and it has already been widely commented on: Will the spectators’ desire for images be intact in the future, due to the anchoring of new habits with the platforms? Won’t there also be, for many months to come, a simple health fear in frequenting public places, now potentially dangerous. The dimension of the pleasure of sharing, even with strangers, which brings an experience of unequalled power to the cinema, is being attacked in its most intimate foundations.

Reconstructing desire

Of course, the spectators will one day find the desire to go to the cinema and the pleasure of sharing films, as Richard Patry (president of the Fédération nationale des cinémas français) puts it so well. But it seems essential to me to work to help rebuild this desire. During the confinement the initiatives of remote collective screenings (La 25è heure), open-air screenings (Cinéma La Clef, Paris), drive-in initiatives (project in Cabourg for the summer of 2020) were already very relevant and successful.

Reestablishing links

Here is a complementary proposal, which has proved its worth over the last ten years to weave strong links around the shared pleasure of the image: travelling projection. The idea is, around a cinema or a media library, to build a programme of professional or amateur short films, film excerpts or trailers, which will be projected on the walls of the neighbourhood, at night. The public lives during these screenings an exceptional experience, one rediscovers the magic of projection, which is fascinating, and the films give everyday places a totally unexpected dimension. So, in addition to the great pleasure of a projection, of a unique shared experience, it also produces a profound reinvestment in one’s living space and circulation (as street theatre does).

These itinerant projections can be simple proposals from the theatre to its public, during the closing period, very playful and inscribing beautiful and original cinema experiences. They can also be proposals for workshops: it is then a group of spectators that builds the projection and animates it. The involvement is thus even stronger. We have tested this system with cinemas on several occasions with success (Aubervilliers, La Courneuve, Martigues, Valence, Montbéliard, Rennes, Saint-Nazaire...).

Mediation, an essential tool

Mediation is what will make all the difference: it is not, in itself, projecting an image on a wall that makes the experience extraordinary, it is the choice of film, the choice of place in relation to this film, the meaning of this encounter, the words that are given to the spectators before and after the screening, the way the neighbourhood has been invested, the way the screening has been prepared in relation to the inhabitants, the rehearsal time, especially technical, the good management of social distancing, etc. Whether in the form of a workshop or a single projection, it is from the attention with which the travelling projection is prepared that a strong and constructive experience for the audience will result.

The technology

The technical tool used is the “pico-projector” (portable video-projector) associated with a portable autonomous loudspeaker for sound. There are a multitude of models of pico-projectors, only some of them are adapted to this use (power, ergonomics, autonomy, etc.).

Examples

In the Moving screenings section of this site, you will find concrete and inspiring examples of how to implement this concept.

See also